Cocobolo or cocobola (Dalbergia retusa) is one of the most beautiful appearing woods in the
world. (Sometimes cocobolo is called
Nicaragua rosewood. In Mexico, the
wood is called granadillo.) The Dalbergia
genus also includes Brazilian rosewood
and Honduras rosewood, but cocobolo
is heavier and stronger and is often
consider more beautiful in appearance.
The cocobolo tree, found growing in
Central America, including Costa Rica,
Nicaragua, Panama, Mexico, Colombia,
Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, is
60 feet tall at most and usually less than
24 inches in diameter. It requires at
least 80 years to reach maturity. Being
a legume, it can fix nitrogen in the soil,
so it is an important tree in tropical
areas where heavy rains tend to leach
nutrients from the soil.
The primary use of this wood is in
the cutlery business. Cocobolo wood
makes beautiful handles that have
great color, natural water repellence,
and high surface hardness. Another
common use is for fine guitars. When
the wood has a lot of grain figure,
which is commonly found in veneers
and as accent wood for fine furniture.
Contact with the wood, especially
dust, can produce a reaction similar to
poison ivy in many people. Breathing
problems also occur. ;
Strong and beautiful hardwood from Central America.
; Want more? For more on this and other species, search the Wood Explorer collection at
by Gene Wengert
firstname.lastname@example.org WOOD EXPLORER
Density. This wood has a density when
kiln-dried over 1.0. When kiln-dried, it
weighs at least 70 pounds per cubic foot.
Drying. Drying requires great care as
the wood is prone to warping and prone
to face cracking or checking. Drying
procedures, including kiln schedules, are
the mildest possible. Nearly all wood
found in the marketplace will be already
air-dried. Shrinkage in drying is reported
to be under 4 percent, which is quite low.
The world’s source
for in-line moisture
Gluing and Machining. The wood
is quite waxy and so gluing is extremely
difficult. Machining is moderately difficult.
Note the previous comments about severe
Stability. This wood is amazing stable,
requiring a 7 percent moisture content
change for a 1 percent size change
tangentially and 10 percent change for a
1 percent size change radially.
Color and Grain. After exposure to
light, heartwood turns dark red with some
black stripping at times. The wood has
natural luster. Overall the surface grain is
very smooth. There are some reports that
the color is partially dissolved by some
finishes and then can bleed into adjacent,
lighter colored species.